Lessons from Truth Goggles: 'Trying to tell people what to think is a losing battle'


MIT grad student Dan Schultz shares some lessons from his effort to create virtual "Truth Goggles" -- a browser plugin that shows a user "what is true and what is false on the web site you are viewing."

The three big ones, boiled down from his 145-page thesis:

  • "When people consume information they are struggling hard to maintain their identity. That’s all there is to it. There is plenty of evidence that people consume information with ideological motivations. Those motivations often cause them to accept or reject information based on how well it aligns with what they already believe. ..."
  • "Trying to tell people what to think is a losing battle. ... There is no way to create a universally respected system that also tells people what to think. I changed course and settled for a system that would remind people when to think instead. I think that is a better mission anyway."
  • "Credibility breeds respect, and respect breeds open minds. Several participants in the Truth Goggles user study commented that having a credibility layer made them more willing to consider perspectives and messages that they might have normally ignored completely."

Earlier: 5 projects that take different approaches to promote fact-checking (Poynter) | Introducing Truth Goggles (Slifty.com)

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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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